How to Put on a Horse Harness

Updated April 17, 2017

If you'd like to have your horse pull a wagon, buggy, sleigh, trailer or other load, you must harness him. With a harness, you can properly guide and control your horse. It also ensures that the horse can comfortably and steadily pull whatever load you attach to the harness. If you don't put the harness on correctly, you could injure the horse. Thankfully, harnessing a horse is a relatively straightforward process.

Brush your horse. His coat should be free of dirt and debris prior to harnessing her. Otherwise, debris and dirt could rub between the harness and your horse's skin, leading to irritation. Use a dry brush to clean all areas where the harness will rest.

Place the harness collar around the horse's neck. Put a collar pad underneath the collar to keep your horse comfortable. The collar should rest firmly and evenly at the horse's breast level.

Lay the harness on top of the collar. The harness's square flats will lay on top of the collar.

Tighten the hame strap. This strap is the portion of the harness that goes across the horse's chest. This strap must be secure for the harness to function properly.

Put the harness saddle on the horse. It should sit slightly farther back than a standard riding saddle. The saddle's girth will go underneath the horse's belly. Tighten it until it is snug and secure.

Bridle the horse. You can put on the bridle as you would a normal riding bridle; however, a harness bridle's reins are much longer. Place the bit in the horse's mouth and the top of the bridle over the horse's ears. Fasten the bridle's throat latch underneath the horse's throat.

Thread the reins through the harness's bridle guides. Your horse is now ready to pull a load.


Never use a broken harness. It could injure you or your horse.

Things You'll Need

  • Horse brush
  • Harness
  • Collar pad
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